Saturday, November 14, 2015


Snaresbrook is the 8th station on the Central Line that I have visited. The station was opened by the Eastern Counties Railway in 1856 as a branch line to Loughton which was eventually extended to Epping and Ongar in 1865. The station was transferred to the London Underground's Central Line in 1947 which formed part of the delayed (due to WW2) Eastern extension of the Central Line.

The station has a number of Victorian features including the cast iron canopy supports.

 Dating back to 1948 are these concrete roundels seen on the platforms.
A little area of green to brighten up the platform

Snaresbrook station is at the top of a hill, not very high but still unusual.

At the bottom of the road from the station is this unusual drinking fountain with its tiled roof (dated 1872).

The fountain is represented on the sign for Wanstead Village.

Turning right at the fountain on to Hollybush Hill you come to this lodge which is the pedestrian entrance to  Snaresbrook Court.

This is Snaresbook Crown Court. It is one of 12 Crown Courts that serve Greater London. Set within 18 acres of land with its own lake that borders Waltham Forest. It is the largest Crown Court in the UK  with 4,400 cases brought to trial in 2014. Built in 1841 as an orphanage, it remained as such until 1938 when it became the Royal Wanstead School. Just over 30 years later this impressive building became a court.

The Court overlooks Eagle Pond, one of the oldest ponds in Epping Forest.

On the corner of Woodford Road and Snaresbrook Road and across the road from the pond is the White Lodge a 19th Cent building. This was the Lodge for the late 18th Cent Snaresbrook House. The House and grounds are now privately owned and not accessible to the public.

Also on Woodford Road is The Eagle is an old coaching inn dating back to the early 17th cent. It was originally called The Spread Eagle and stands on the main A11 road, a major thoroughfare  between London and Newmarket. The frontage is 18th cent with a decorative cast iron balcony.


I continued walking along Woodford Road and came across Hermitage Court, a large development of art deco apartments from the 1930s. As with many of the buildings along this road I assume it isn't cheap to own one of them. Googling the address I discovered that it was mentioned in the book Secret Train Robber referring to George Stanley, lawyer to the Great Train Robbers who kept his mistress here. Stanley is reported as being used by the robbers to launder their takings from the train robbery.

Woodford Road which continues as the High Road through South Woodford. Going beyond this point takes me too far away from Snaresbrook station so I crossed the road and made my way back to Snaresbrook Road.

Once on Snaresbrook road I walked round Eagle Pond and into the Forest.

This is Hollow pond. The extensive water areas were created from old gravel workings at the end of the 19th C using unemployed  men from the local area. The ponds are replenished from underground springs. It looked idyllic when I was there but a few weeks previous to my visit the body of a murdered man had been found here. (More info on the BBC website. )

In 1905 plans were made to create an outdoor swimming pool near to Hollow Pond. It was spring-fed but was muddy and unhygienic. In the 1920s the pool was improved and lined with concrete but was still liable to get muddy. In 1937 the pool was revamped with the latest facilities including chlorinated water. Finally with falling numbers and difficulties with maintenance the pool was closed in 1982. The pool was filled in and the land restored to the Forest and is now scrubbing over.

I am now on Whipps Cross Road and not far from Hollow Pond is this Hindu temple which was inauguarated in June 1980 and is the sister temple to a much lager one in Wembley, North London.
Just around the corner from the Temple and facing a small area of forest is this terrace of rather grand Victorian houses.

Walking on I passed this hotel. Alfred Hitchcock, the film director was born in nearby Leytonstone in 1899. I will be visiting his birthplace in a few weeks as Leystonstone is also on the Central line.

This stone marks the limit of my walk today as it marks the boundary with Leytonstone and is known as the High Stone. Names become so familiar that I don't think we pay much attention to their origin.  The name Leytonstone means the part of Leyton by the stone - obvious!
The stone was originally a mile marker and showed the distances to Epping, Ongar, Whitechapel and Hyde Park Corner on three of its faces.
The current obelisk only dates from the 1930s when the original stone was damaged by a vehicle. The base is part of the original stone which some say dates back to Roman times.

The road to the left of the marker is Hollybush Hill and takes you passed Snaresbrook County Court and back to the station.
I took the other road, New Wanstead towards Hermon Hill. Here I discovered another architectural gem.

This magnificent building was a purpose built orphanage constructed in 1862. It was known as the Merchant Seamen's Orphanage. It was first established in London in 1827 to care for the children of men lost at sea. The criteria for admission were  strictly.adhered to. The child's father must have died during active service at sea and no more than two children from the same family could reside in the orphanage (or asylum as it was called then) at any one time. The splitting up of children seems particularly harsh. This is the second building in this area that used to be an orphanage, the other being Snaresbrook Crown Court

Over the years the emphasis changed  from an orphanage to a school and became known as the Royal Merchant Navy school. In the 20s the orphanage and school moved to Wokingham in Berkshire and changed its name to Bearwood. The Snaresbrook site was bought by the Covent of the Good Shepherd but was sold again in 1937 to Essex County Council who converted the property into a hospital until its closure in 1986. The building has now been converted into flats.

You can still see references to its original purpose of providing a home for Seamen's children.

The old orphanage chapel is now being used as a synagogue.
Built in 1863 it was acquired by the synagogue in 1995 and restored with a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

Time to return to the station and home. Approaching the station from the other side you can see that it is above ground level and the bridge that takes the train on to its next stop on the Central Line.



  1. Back down memory lane again! I remember attending Jury Service at Snaresbrook Crown Court - terrifying experience! and the mention of Whipps Cross brought back memories of one of my first jobs at the hospital as a teenager. Thanks again xx

  2. Hello, what a great tour and post. The Court is a grand building. I love the design of the orphange chapel. Awesome series of photos, thanks for sharing. Happy Sunday, enjoy your new week ahead!

  3. What an interesting little area! I particularly like the drinking fountain - it seems MUCH too ornate for such a plebian purpose!

  4. Yes, a very interesting place, with so many magnificent structures. Thanks for taking me on this trip. :-)

  5. That's a very attractive area. I'm always impressed with the history in England; where I live was only settled a little over a hundred years ago.

  6. So many interesting things, but I think the most interesting are the two large orphanages in close proximity to each other and what that implies about London's poor children in times past. I'm looking forward to your visit to Hitchcock's birthplace!

  7. I love how you say ' from here I walked into the woods ..." As if it were something that just anyone might do .. You are such an intrepid explorer. As we loved about London, the parts we saw, this stop shows so well the layers of history ... .

    Boy, it was hard times being an orphan back then!

  8. There are so many interesting buildings in this area. I loved the courthouse, the victorian terrace houses and the orphanage. Well done. A lot of these names are familiar to mess I can remember my parents talking about the local places. I find it interesting that the word Eagle is used a bit. Eagle House, Eagle Pond and The Eagle Inn.

  9. Thanks for bringing me along on this interesting tour! So many great buildings and details!

  10. I really enjoyed your walk – looking at all the interesting buildings. I’ll come back because I love trains. Unfortunately here in Atlanta there is only one train – once a day it goes north to New York City and another train, once a day, goes south to New Orleans – and that’s it.

  11. Thanks for taking us along for the ride! What a beautiful town.

  12. I like the buildings and surrounding countryside.


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